A pizza topped with Italian salami, marinated tomatoes and fresh arugula at Matchbox in Washington. (Astrid Riecken/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)


The following review appears in The Washington Post’s 2016 Spring Dining Guide.

Even though it has expanded from its original three-level location in Chinatown to embrace nearly a dozen same-named restaurants in the District and beyond, Matchbox retains many of its opening-day charms. A wood-stoked pizza oven tips off customers to one draw: thin-crusted pies that whisper of smoke. Servers sport black T-shirts printed with “3-6-9” on them, referencing the several ways you can ask for the signature juicy mini-burgers, heaped with Parmesan-dusted onion strings. The menu is big, and so are the portions. Salads are built for two; one of the best is chopped romaine bulked up with chickpeas, red peppers and salami and slicked with an oregano vinaigrette. Fried chicken comes with a nice crunch and zingy vinegar dip. Spice-rubbed tuna on an alp of risotto ringed with wasabi cream is ambitious, if poorly edited. Both rib-stickers are delivered by chipper ambassadors. I love a bartender who’s so tickled a stranger has ordered her favorite creation she wants to gift it. To understand the name, look down at your table, inset with vintage matchbooks.

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2 stars

→713 H St. NW. 202-289-4441. matchboxrestaurants.com.

Open: Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner daily, brunch Saturday and Sunday.

Prices: Lunch, dinner entrees and pizzas $12 to $31, brunch entrees $6 to $20.

Sound check: 73 decibels / Must speak with raised voice.

Previously (2007): 2 stars